"The Duke of Spain"
29 April 2013
As my cockney Friend would say, or its raining cats n dogs"
We are back in Spain, since arriving on Saturday it hasn't stopped raining in fact I heard on the French news yesterday it was snowing in parts of France. Did I get the dates mixed up, surely we are almost in May?
It's cold windy and wet, my shorts are still in the luggage and I have had to dig out the Mustos what is the world coming too, for me April is always the worst Month in this part of Spain, wet and windy but this year it seems much much worse than ever.
My to do list has been abandoned and we are hiding away in the warm dry cabin. I have been following the weather forecast and they are predicting this stormy weather will stop dead on Wednesday, the sun will come out, and the temperature will soar from 14 to 24 degrees.....O yer and pigs will fly, anyway as they say "we will wait and see" or as they say in France " on attend de voir"
I have a plan that's so cunning you could paint a tail on it and call it a weasel
22 April 2013
We leave Cannes next weekend and fly to Barcelona, after spending a few weeks preparing Castor and having relatives visit we are off on our summer cruise.
The plan is to sail out to the Balearics, once we have visited all the Islands we crossover to Sardinia and explore the North East archipelago before cruising down the west coast of Corsica on route to Cannes and Port Pierre Canto where we hope to winter Castor just a 5 minute walk from the apartment.
What’s so clever about that you ask, well for starters, spending five months chilling out on the back of a boat can’t be that bad and by anchoring all the time we hope to deprive all those ripe off marina bosses in the Balearics of their easy gained Euros.
Now I don’t suppose they will be crying into their sangrias as there are many who will be quite willing to pay best part of 200 Euros a night to moor their boat up against a floating pontoon, but not us, no, we prefer to find a well protected anchorage with crystal clear warm water, soft fine golden sand beaches, am I dreaming again, well you know what I mean.
Oh and yes I did lift that quote about the weasel from Blackadder.
19 January 2013
I'm going to show my lack of education now, up to last week I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that I had never heard of the word cloying. It was brought to my attention by my american friend, don't laugh! You might be asking yourselves how come an american is teaching me the finer points of the English language when they can't even spell properly! Look how they spell "color"! Well, I am sure you are all better educated than I am, and know that roughly translated it describes the over indulgence of mostly sweet things till they become sickly and unpleasant i.e. too much of a good thing!
Having never come across the word before I like to put my own translation to it and say that it just describes the aftermath of indulgence and excess which brings me to our week with Virgil and Debbie.
They arrived at Nice airport with an agenda, Virgil in his 75th year had brought his bucket list with him and was out to tick boxes. The week past like a tornado, the chief guide of the Cote D'Azure was hard pressed to keep up with the insatiable demand for more.
It was difficult to say what was best, spending a day in the Casino at Monte Carlo, dropping a few chips at the tables and eating and drinking like royalty in their restaurant or becoming almost intoxicated with the views whilst driving along a deserted narrow road cut into the side of a mountain in the Italian Alps or maybe it was the picnic on the island of St. Marguerite cloying on fois gras and expensive wines while having the island and the whole Mediterranean view to ourselves.
Alas all good things must come to an end and the following Saturday saw Virgil and Debbie boarding a plane.
I took the motorway back to Cannes...............f@?ked or should I say cloyed!
Lunch in Italy
23 December 2012
Yesterday, Saturday 22nd December while Castor lounged in Spain we had lunch in Italy. Took the toll motorway to Nice, pay to travel on a road, doesn't sound like me, but what a view, the A8 from Cannes to Nice must be one of the best in the world, on one side you have the Alps covered in snow on the other side the sun glistens over the azure blue of the Mediterranean, from this view you really start to appreciate the meaning of the word "AlpMaritime"
From Nice we picked up our friends in Villefranche and took the lower corniche along the coast past Monaco and Menton before arriving in Italy. The sun was shinning and the sky was blue, every turn in the road served up a view to die for, ten minutes driving along this road and you can understand why so many of the rich and famous throughout the world have homes here.
We were heading for a restaurant in a little medieval village perched on a hillside called Apricale, there are no roads inside the village only cobbled walk ways and steps rising between the houses and under archways. Arriving was like walking back in time, even the smell of burning logs and cold damp stone intensified the medieval feeling. Being so high up made the air a little chilly and the brisk walk increased our appetite. An unobstructed view across the valley from our restaurant window showed a forest where over the centuries generations of farmers had cut into the hillside to form terraces to grow their crops. There was nothing we could see from this view that reassured us we weren't dreaming and this wasn't the 16th century, only the smart restaurant kept our sense of reality. A small framed newspaper clipping on the wall proclaimed Michael Winner the film producer and currently restaurant critic had visited and written a raving revue. He wasn't alone in his prognosis, the beef melted in the mouth and the local red wine was light and fruity.
We passed the afternoon walking off our excesses and then took the drive back to our friends home in Villefranche-sur-mer. As the light faded I chose the higher corniche for the return journey to take advantage of the view of the night illuminations on the Côte D'Azure, even the cliff faces close to Nice were illuminated.
It certainly was a day to mark down in that little book of favorite memories.
It's also a day to wish everyone daft enough or bored enough to read our ramblings a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year and if like me you are a sailor, Bon vent.
03 December 2012
Castor was lifted from the water and placed in a cradle. The mechanic Arrived wearing rubber gloves and overhauls, his tools were unwrapped and laid out neatly in a row, Chantal and I were apprehensive, Castor was in a bad shape. Pints of gear oil were set up to drip feed Castor. Like a surgeon performing an operation, his incisions were precise and accurate, every part dismantled was meticulously cleaned and checked. Castor's sail-drive was rebuilt using new oil seals and installed with new rubber diaphragms, the YanMar had the once over with new impellers and filters fitted. Even the generator was serviced. Anti-fouled, polished propeller and she was back in the water. After a few days resting Castor was given the all clear and we could breath again. In fact we could dream again, dream of a new summer cruising the Mediterranean with Castor. Yes I know I shouldn't make plans and yes they all went wrong last summer, so what I can dream can't I?
Born in Marseille!
31 July 2012
Chantal is always asking me if I come from Marseille, I think it's got something to do with the Marseillaise having the reputation of exaggerating a little. Yes I admit It, I do gild the lily from time to time, why not, it can make a dull story a little more interesting!
But what I am about to say has the one hundred percent endorsement from Chantal as being the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Unfortunately I have no photography's.
We sailed from Santa Ponsa, Mallorca at 7pm on Sunday 22nd July our progress in leaving the Island was boringly slow, by the early hours of the morning we were close hauled in 10 knots of wind and sailing a course directly for Port Ginesta. Mallorca was now just a distant memory, daylight was appearing over the horizon, Chantal had been sleeping in the cabin and was now coming up through the hatch, looking over my shoulder she let out a gasp, all around us she could see giant tornados reaching right up into the clouds, in fact they were waterspouts. There were three located about one nautical mile off our starboard quarter and another about the same distance on our port beam, you could almost reach out and touch them. The sky had turned a dark grey, looking through the binoculars we could see clearly water being lifted hundreds of feet into the sky. We stood with our feet glued to the spot looking for what seemed like a lifetime before noticing a large black cloud forming in front of us with dark curtains hanging down to the sea. The wind suddenly dropped leaving an ierrey silence, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. It only took my mind a few seconds to realize this was a squall heading directly for us. Like someone turning on the tap to a giant waterfall the rain started then the wind hit us, Castor leaned to her toe-rail the sails banged taught and we were off like an express train. The wind settled down to a manageable 28 knots as I hastily reefed and balanced Castor. The twisters slowly dissolved into the sky one by one, it was only then did we realize what a close shave we had had and we didn't even think of taking pictures, how stupid can you get.
The wind stayed with us all that day but the waves grew by the hour, for Castor to punch her way through the mounting seas we had to keep more sail up than I would have liked. Our leeward deck was partly submerged our weather beam was exposed to the breaking waves. Castor was being pushed further and further over, occasionally the bow and foot of our foresail would disapear below the giant waves but like an old soldier she would pick her self up and battle on as steady as a rock maintaining between 7 and 8.5 knots even though green water was crashing across her foredeck and into our well protected cockpit.
Seeking protection from the breaking waves I left our autopilot to do all the work and sat under the spray hood, Chantal preferred to go below, retiring to her bunk so she didn't have to watch the giant seas. Reflecting on the day's events I started to wonder what I ever saw in sailing maybe I'm just a masochist.
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